Meth Addiction Treatment

What You Need To Know About Meth Addiction

Meth is one of the most dangerous drugs available today and it can have serious long-term effects. The abuse of meth across the world has reached epidemic proportions with millions of people struggling with addiction.

In 2017, an estimated 964,000 people in the United States, were diagnosed with a methamphetamine use disorder. Fortunately, there is help available, and people who are addicted to heroin can and do recover.

Most people have heard about meth and meth addiction. However, you may not be clear in your mind as to exactly what meth is or how addiction develops.

If you believe you or a loved one could be addicted to meth, this article is for you. The sooner a person who is struggling with substance abuse seeks treatment, the better the chance of recovery.

So what is meth? Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that is made from amphetamine and other chemicals. It was once legal and widely available in both tablet and injectable forms throughout the United States.

Doctors prescribed it as a weight-loss drug and decongestant. However, many people abused their prescriptions because of the stimulant effects.

This prompted the Food and Drug Administration to restrict and regulate methamphetamine. It has been a Schedule II controlled substance since 1970 and only one prescription methamphetamine drug remains.

It is called Desoxyn and it is used to treat obesity and severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Most people who are addicted to meth use illegal forms of the drug. Meth is a crystalline powder and it’s usually white although it can be pink, yellow, or brown. Meth is bitter and odorless and it can be dissolved in liquid.

While it can be compressed into pill form and taken orally, most people smoke, snort or inject it. Crystal meth is the strongest, most distilled form of methamphetamine and it is either clear or blue. It comes in the form of coarse crystals and it is usually smoked.

Meth dealers often mix or “cut” meth with opioids, antidepressants, or other substances so they can sell less of the actual drug and increase their profits. This can increase the risk of overdose and lead to dangerous drug interactions. 

Short and Long Term Effects of Meth Use

Short and Long Term Effects of Meth Use

Some people start using meth out of boredom, peer pressure, or curiosity. Others want to escape unpleasant emotions or get rid of symptoms of mental illness. Genetics, biological makeup, and environmental cues can also play a role.

People who use meth experience a rush of euphoria followed by feelings of power, confidence, and productivity. They may feel the need to keep moving but in reality, they may not be accomplishing much of anything.

People who are high on meth may also be more talkative and sociable and they may not realize when their behavior is becoming bizarre. The effects of meth can last for 8 to 12 hours.

People who binge may stay awake for several days without drinking or eating much. They may experience:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Flushed skin
  • Increased body temperature
  • Muscle twitching 

Long-term meth use can lead to multiple physical and psychological problems including: 

  • Respiratory problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Malnutrition
  • Liver failure
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Reproductive problems
  • Birth defects 
  • Seizures 
  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss
  • Psychosis
  • Impaired cognition
  • Depression

How Addictive is Meth?

Now that you know what meth is, you may be asking “how long does it take to get addicted to meth?’. Methamphetamine is highly addictive.

Since it causes a high spike of dopamine in the brain, an individual can become addicted to meth after using it just once.

Dopamine creates feelings of pleasure. In order to continue feeling the euphoria that meth evokes, people return to the drug time and time again.

Some people seek to maintain their high for several days and as a result, tolerance quickly develops.

This means they get a diminished effect when using the amount of meth they always use and many people increase the dose repeatedly in search of the initial euphoria. Once tolerance develops, meth addiction usually isn’t too far behind. 

A person who is addicted to meth will feel like they can’t function unless the drug is in their system.

When they don’t have access to the drug, they may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and strong cravings. Without professional help, meth users often feel they have no choice but to continue using.

Meth Addiction Symptoms

If a person is abusing meth or addicted to meth, they will eventually show physical, psychological, and behavioral signs. You may also see the paraphernalia they use to take the drug.

Being able to identify common meth addiction symptoms can help to ensure that you or someone whom you love gets help at the earliest opportunity.

Physical Signs of Meth Addiction

Physical Signs of Meth Addiction

Meth users who are struggling with addiction often display:

  • Extreme or sudden weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Broke, stained, or decayed teeth
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Erratic sleeping patterns
  • Mood swings or outbursts
  • Burns on the lips or fingers

Psychological Signs of Meth Addiction

Dopamine doesn’t only activate the brain’s pleasure and reward systems. It also affects learning, motivation, and memory retention.

Therefore, people who are addicted to meth often find it difficult to remember things or learn new information. Some also become irritable and they may experience auditory and visual hallucinations.

Many people are familiar with the image of a meth user who is always scratching. This results from a meth-induced psychosis in which the individual thinks insects are crawling on them. As a result, they scratch and pick at their skin to find relief, leading to abrasions.

Individuals who are addicted to meth may also “tweak”. Tweaking is characterized by 3 to 15 days of sleeplessness, confusion, paranoia, and irritability.

An individual who is tweaking may also be violent and more likely to engage in criminal behavior. There are physical symptoms associated with tweaking such as rapid eye movement and jerky movements while walking.

Behavioral Signs of Meth Addiction

In the early stages, an individual may still be able to balance meth use with school, work, or familial responsibilities. However, as dependence progresses to addiction, they start to behave differently.

Anything other than drug use becomes secondary and eventually, they can’t hide their meth addiction. In fact, they may no longer care enough to try to hide it. The only thing they care about is sourcing meth and using it. 

If you’re concerned that a friend or relative may be addicted to meth, you should also look for signs that they’re crashing. If a person is addicted to meth but they’re unable to get it, they will go through a one to three-day period of extreme exhaustion.

They’ll appear depressed and they may sleep a lot. The person will also experience intense meth cravings.

The Presence of Meth and Meth Paraphernalia

Coupled with other signs of meth addiction, the presence of the actual drug and the related paraphernalia is a clear indicator. Meth is usually in powder form and it may be packaged in a sandwich bag or Ziploc bag. The corner of the bag may be cut off and closed with a twist tie.

The related equipment will depend on whether the person smokes, injects, or snorts meth. Therefore, you should take note of strips of aluminum foil, short straws, lighters, glass tubes, hollowed-out light bulbs or pens, rolled-up dollar bills, syringes, and spoons.

Confirming a Meth Addiction

Clinical diagnosis is necessary to confirm an addiction to meth or any other drug. Based on the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), an individual can be diagnosed with a methamphetamine use disorder if they meet certain criteria. These include:

  • Developing tolerance. I.e. needing increasing amounts of meth to get the same effects
  • Using more meth for longer periods
  • Using meth even though it poses a danger to oneself or others
  • Spending a lot of time using meth
  • Neglecting personal, academic, or professional responsibilities because of methamphetamine use
  • Experiencing interpersonal or social problems as a result of meth use
  • Experiencing withdrawal when not using the drug or when trying to quit
  • Experiencing strong cravings for meth
  • Trying repeatedly but failing to reduce meth usage or stop usage
  • Neglecting other activities to find or use meth
  • Developing physical or mental health issues because of meth use

Experiencing two or more of these criteria over 12 months is indicative of addiction. Meeting six or more criteria is considered a severe addiction. Four or five is considered moderate and two or three is considered mild addiction.

Long-Term Effects of Meth Addiction

The effects of meth addiction don’t automatically go away once a person stops using and undergoes treatment.

Meth abuse causes permanent damage to the brain. Mood disturbances, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, and psychosis can last for a long time after an individual stops using meth. Emotional and cognitive issues may also continue.

Meth users are also at risk of long-term cardiac issues, seizures, and psychological illnesses.

Getting Meth Addiction Help

Drug addiction is a chronic disease. This means there’s no cure. However, there is excellent treatment available. Meth addiction treatment usually takes the form of medically supervised detox followed by behavioral therapies.

While there are medications that assist with the treatment of some substance use disorders, there are no medicines to counteract the effects of meth or prolong sobriety.

People who are addicted to meth usually benefit most from inpatient treatment followed by progressively less intensive forms of treatment. 

Detox

Detox is an important first step. As the body adjusts to the absence of meth, the individual will experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Fever 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dehydration 
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors 
  • Increased appetite
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression

The severity and duration of the symptoms will depend on how long the person was using meth, the amount they used, the frequency with which they used, and whether they used other drugs.

The method of consumption is also important. People who use methamphetamine intravenously tend to experience more intense symptoms for a longer time.

However, by undergoing medically supervised detox, they can get medication and psychological support to make them more comfortable.

Acute physical withdrawal symptoms usually peak within two or three days and gradually go away after about a week.

However, agitation, sleep disturbances, cravings, and mood swings can go for several weeks. For some people, depression lasts for months or even a year.

Rehab

Rehab

Detox helps to prepare the mind and body for long-term sobriety. However, it’s rarely successful on its own. People who are addicted to meth need therapy to get to the bottom of their addiction and learn how to fight cravings and handle triggers.

The two most effective types of treatment for meth addiction are contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps individuals to identify and challenge distortions in their thinking and behavior.

It also helps with regulating emotions and coming up with strategies to cope with problems. Meanwhile, contingency management encourages people to stay in treatment and remain sober through the use of incentives such as vouchers or small cash rewards.

Talk therapy, family counseling, 12-Step support, and other interventions may also be used depending on the individual’s needs.

Reach Out to The Discovery House Today!

Our luxury rehab center in Southern California offered structured, evidence-based meth addiction treatment programs. We tailor each program to the needs of the individual and we equip them with the tools they need to live a sober life.

Given our 3:1 patient to counselor ratio, each person gets the attention they deserve. The Discovery House accepts most insurance policies so contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one recover from meth addiction.

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